Join ORG to fight increasing surveillance and attacks on our human rights

David Cameron also announced that the government intends to scrap the Human Rights Act.

The details of the “British Bill of Rights” that would replace it are sketchy. But what is clear is that the government is determined to reduce the human rights protections available to ordinary people in order to avoid facing limitations on its own powers. It is precisely these limitations that allow us to defend ourselves against mass surveillance and hold our government to account.

ORG is already fighting mass surveillance and defending the right to privacy in the courts. It’s proving very successful: we have a high chance of forcing the government to admit that their surveillance powers are too broad and not sufficiently controlled.

We are challenging the government’s surveillance practices before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as one of the applicants in the ‘Privacy not Prism’ claim. We are questioning the legal framework under which the intelligence services receive and use data from the NSA’s “PRISM” and “UPSTREAM” programmes. We are aguing that the current framework is inadequate to comply with the “in accordance with the law” requirement of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). We are also challenging GCHQ’s “TEMPORA” programme, which involves the interception of data from transatlantic fibre-optic cables, under general and rolling RIPA warrants. We highlight that this interception is  indiscriminate and generic. We believe the RIPA provisions for external communications warrants breach the “in accordance with the law” and proportionality requirements of Article 8.

The ECtHR has recognised the importance of this case by giving it priority status. The case is currently adjourned pending judgment in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) case brought by other human rights NGOs. We expect it to proceed in 2015 following the judgment in the IPT case. 

We are also involved in a legal challenge to the new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA). Tom Watson MP and David Davis MP have launched a judicial review of the lawfulness of DRIPA, asserting it is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. We are seeking to make a third party intervention in the case. We will make submissions on the relevance of the EU context, in particular the restrictions contained in the EU data protection framework on the retention of personal data. We will contend that DRIPA is overly broad of in light of the clear guidance given by the CJEU in the Digital Rights Ireland case.

The parties have agreed not to oppose our intervention and we are currently awaiting the decision of the court on our application for permission. Earlier this year ORG also mobilised 1,600 supporters to complain to their ISP about their data being retained, demonstrating that people care about this issue.

We will win on at least some of these legal battlegrounds. In doing so we will limit the government’s ability to extend surveillance still further. But the threat to our fundamental human rights is increasing and the fight against the extension of indiscriminate surveillance is intensifying. 

The only way we can stop these threats is by fighting back harder. This year, over 1,200 people have joined to help us fight DRIP, PRISM and other mass surveillance programmes. That has enabled us to take on the government in the courts. Now we need to take the fight to the election, where Theresa May and Cameron are already promising to advance the surveillance state. We can force the parties to justify their views; we can show them that the public care about this: but we can only do this with your help.

Join ORG today to support us in the fight.